How I try to Keep Safe While Travelling in Africa
Friends, family and colleagues often ask about the safety of travelling around Africa. Of course there are crime reports and statistics and some African countries do come across as dangerous places. Not to mention the recent news about a lion attacking and killing an American tourist.
Besides a few minor incidents like being harassed by beggars, and being the victim of petty theft once or twice, I have felt pretty safe in my travels around Africa. When it comes to wildlife, I have only ever been bitten by insects, which is annoying – but certainly not life threatening if you’ve had your shots.
Am I lucky or what?
Some people believe that I have just been lucky and maybe that is the case, at least to an extent. In my opinion it is not that simple. Like many other things on the so-called ‘dark’ continent, crime in Africa should not be generalized and simplified. Yes, there are problems in many countries, and that is why it is important to be vigilant and informed. I decided to note some thoughts on how I try to stay safe on my journeys (not just the African ones).
Seven safety habits of a habitual traveler
Research – Although there are similarities, every African country is completely different with very different dynamics in terms of safety. The same applies to other countries. Before you go, Google.
- Know where not to go – Part of your pre-travel research should include finding out where you should not go. There are no-go zones in every country. Find out where they are and simply don’t go there.
- Keep your eyes open – No matter where you are, try to be observant. Look around you and take your environment in. Many criminals rely on the element of surprise.
- Don’t flash your cash – Or your camera, mobile phone or jewelry for that matter. If you look like a target, you could end up being treated like one.
- Listen to your instinct – If the little voice in your head says you must watch out, take the advice.
Animals are wild, that is why they are called wild animals – Lions are majestic animals to behold, and yes, they are dangerous. Many wild animals are. The lion that attacked and killed the American tourist was doing what lions do, hunt and eat. There is no such thing as a Tesco for lions, so listen to tour guides and follow safety guidelines.
- Common sense – At the end of the day, a healthy dose of common sense goes a long way.
- When driving, lock your doors. Don’t leave your luggage unattended.
- When drawing money at an ATM, be extra vigilant. Get your vaccinations and take your malaria pills when you need to.
Don’t let fear stop you
If a civil war breaks out or a stampeding herd of buffalos come your way, you will obviously have to deal with it. But, leave the panic for if it happens; don’t let fear stop you from experiencing an incredible continent.